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Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Belgian Training Camp: Day Two

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is in Ghent, Flanders, for the first training camp of the year, with the aim of welcoming the new riders to the black and orange team, and having some fun, along with the serious business of preparing for the season ahead.

Any visit to Belgium runs the risk of falling foul of the weather, and today was to be one of those days. The forecast of a fine morning, with rain in the afternoon, proved to be just the opposite, with the day’s first activity turning into one of the wettest rides of the year.

Jolien D’hoore flies her Belgian Driekleur jersey with pride in the Wiggle Koppenberg Challenge

After a quick drive to the village of Melden, just outside Oudenaarde, the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling athletes got on their bikes to take on the Wiggle Koppenberg Challenge. A cold, overcast morning soon got worse as the rain began to fall. By the time the riders had completed a short warm up ride it was pouring down.

The Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team hits the cobbled slopes of the fearsome Koppenberg

The cobbles, whose gradients reach 22%, were now extremely slick, creating conditions that even the likes of Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara would struggle with. Local knowledge proved invaluable for Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore, who just managed to beat the on-form Chloe Hosking to the top.

On-form rider Chloe Hosking followed Jolien over the top

The worsening weather put an end to the planned scenic ride back the the hotel in Ghent, but the riders were determined to get some good kilometres in, despite the horrible conditions. Many of the team have only recently arrived from the hotter climes of Australia and Qatar, or the cosy warmth of the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines velodrome; but the strong pace kept everybody warm, despite the torrential rain and the generous quantities of traditional Belgian road grit!

Nettie Edmondson and Eileen Roe model the latest thing in Belgian road grit

Anna Sanchis joins Nettie and Eileen in a Belgian selfie!

After a well earned shower, some more training on the rollers for some, and a good lunch, the athletes assembled once more for the second activity of the day: the Wiggle #kitbagchallenge.

Team Manager Rochelle Gilmore lays out the clothes for the Wiggle #kitbagchallenge

Each rider would be blindfold, dressed in only bibshorts and undershirt, and be timed as they put on a short-sleeved jersey, armwarmers, legwarmers, socks, overshoes, long-sleeved jersey, gilet and gloves. All this first had to be tipped from a dhb backpack, with a few random items thrown in to help with the confusion!

Dani King blindfolds Mayuko Hagiwara – the first athlete to attempt the #kitbagchallenge

Several athletes started well, with the larger items like jerseys and gilts proving relatively simple. Many of those faster ones came unstuck towards the end though, as small items – particularly the socks and gloves – proved tough to find after the bag’s contents had been liberally scattered; despite “left,” “right” and “behind you!” instructions from their teammates.

That overshoe is on the wrong foot!

One final glove to put on for Chloe Hosking!

But where is that final glove Eileen?

The winner of the competition was former Spanish Champion Anna Sanchis, in a frankly impressive time of three minutes and three seconds; can you do better at home?

Nettie plants a surprise marshmallow in Anna Christian’s overshoe!

Is it those long Swedish nights that make Emilia Fahlin so good at getting dressed in the dark?

But nobody gets dressed quicker than Anna Sanchis!

With Team Manager Rochelle Gilmore’s own race clothing collected up, and the room cleared of it’s furniture, the final challenge of the day began: the #wigglewobblers Balance Competition.

This was a simple skills competition, with the riders taking to their Colnago V1-r bikes, to see which one of them could stay upright the longest without putting their foot down or touching the walls.

The #wigglewobblers Balance Competition begins!

Several of the riders surprised themselves, including British Criterium Champion Eileen Roe, who outlasted several of the track specialists! The competition was eventually whittled down to just Anna Sanchis, Jolien D’hoore and Giorgia Bronzini, who were to make up the three podium places.

The competition comes down to a straight battle between Jolien D’hoore and Giorgia Bronzini…

Anna finally succumbed to gravity, leaving just Jolien and Giorgia, who’d been such great teammates in last night’s wheel change challenge. Jolien was declared the winner after a nudge from Giorgia saw them both put their feet down, and the Belgian champion was awarded her second title of the day!

… but an “illegal” nudge from Giorgia hands the title to Jolien!

With the day’s challenges over, and with dinner out of the way, the series business of the training camp resumed. Directeur Sportif Egon van Kessel talked the team through the route of Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, ahead of tomorrow’s course reconnaissance.


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